Six bidders vie to develop The Ford on Bay; one plan includes Hard Rock Hotel concept
Developers spent Jan. 5 presenting their proposals for the 2.4-acre former courthouse site on the Downtown riverfront.
Daily Record Staff
| 8:51 a.m. January 6, 2022
Six applicants made oral presentations Jan. 5 to the Downtown Investment Authority Review Committee for their suggestions for The Ford on Bay property at 330 E. Bay St.
The proposals including apartments, retail space, restaurants, artwork and hotels, including a Reverb by Hard Rock, which calls itself “Hard Rock Hotel’s affordably cool and contemporary hotel connecting today’s traveler though music, local culture and events.”
Mid-America Apartments L.P., Related Development, Silver Hills Development Inc., SouthEast Development Group LLC, VanTrust Real Estate and Carter had an hour each for their presentations starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Ed Ball Building Downtown.
They responded to the DIA’s notice of disposition for vacant city property at 330 E. Bay St. along the Northbank Riverfront. The cleared site was the former Duval County Courthouse property.
The developers intended to show the committee how their proposals meet the “City’s vision of increased activation” on 2.4 acres of the urban core through design, increased density and a mix of uses that will draw people downtown.
Each applicant had 30 minutes to present their views followed by 30 minutes for questions from the DIA Review Committee, comprising Lori Boyer, DIA CEO; Stephanie Burch, city deputy chief administrative officer; and DIA members James Citrano Jr., who is senior vice president of Seacoast Bank, and Carol Worsham, retired managing principal of HDR Engineering.
The DIA Review Committee will make recommendations Jan. 18. DIA plans to select the winning mixed-use project Jan. 19.
In summary, the presentations comprised:
Mid-America Apartments L.P.
The proposal included 300 multifamily units, retail, restaurants, a parking structure and additional outdoor space.
The proposal did not include design and development of the Riverwalk/Courthouse Drive area adjacent to the property.
The Germantown, Tennessee-based venture, with a regional office in Jacksonville, is a real estate investment trust with a focus on multifamily acquisition, development and management.
It has 10 properties in the Jacksonville area. It traditionally is a long-term property owner and has retail and commercial components in previous projects.
Its proposal includes 310 apartment units, 90,000 square feet of live/work space, retail, restaurants, a parking structure and a rooftop deck.
Known for incorporating art and cultural experiences into its projects, it plans to memorialize the Great Fire of 1901 with a sculpture-type feature within the project.
The project includes the design and construction of the public park/Riverwalk along Courthouse Drive, assuming a $250,000 to $350,000 credit on the land cost.
The Miami-based venture was an applicant on the original Ford on Bay project in 2019.
The multifamily, retail, hotel, dining and mixed-use developer specializes in urban environments.
Related Development is developing the 335-unit RD River City Brewery Apartments on the Southbank.
Silver Hills Development Inc. and Edwards Cos
The proposal includes 315 apartment units, retail, rooftop entertainment area, two restaurants along the riverfront and public property improvements at the Riverwalk.
The Shaker Heights, Ohio-based Silver Hills and Edward Cos. venture specializes in mixed-use urban development, multifamily and student housing development and management.
They are traditionally long-term property owners and managers.
SouthEast Development Group LLC
Jacksonville-based SouthEast Development and Nashville-based City Development Co. formed the Jax Riverfront LLC joint venture.
The Ford on Bay proposal includes a stand-alone 150-room hotel Reverb by Hard Rock, a technology-focused smart hotel for music fans; 300 multifamily units comprising 145 market-rate units, 60 workforce housing units and 95 condominiums, retail, restaurant and office space.
Parking is planned under the buildings and the public Riverwalk area will be enhanced by widening the space.
The venture partners are known for urban revitalization projects.
SouthEast redeveloped The Barnett and is redeveloping the Laura Street Trio. City Development Co. is a mixed-use urban redeveloper with a history of projects in Nashville.
VanTrust Real Estate
It proposes 290 multifamily units, retail, roof deck, parking garage and a public pedestrian plaza.
The Kansas City, Missouri-based company has a regional office in Jacksonville, where it has been developing industrial and office projects. It also develops mixed-use projects with office, retail and multifamily components.
Carter proposes The Hardwick at Ford on Bay, taking inspiration from Jacksonville architect Taylor Hardwick in the design of the Ford on Bay structures.
The development includes 332 apartment units, retail, restaurants and a widened Riverwalk area. Its proposed site plan allows for views through the western half of the project from Bay Street to the river by raising the building to provide open space.
Atlanta-based Carter is a developer and manager of mixed-use multifamily, office and student housing projects.
Some of the basic proposal requirements include:
• A mix of uses, but not limited to, multifamily, hotel, retail, office, restaurant, entertainment and open space
• Only market-rate residential units
• The retail space must be located along Bay Street and along the St. Johns River with minimum density requirements
• Ground-floor retail and restaurant requirements
• Public access to the Riverwalk, which remains public property
• Accounting for physical resiliency of the development structures, types of construction
• Screening of parking structure with other uses
• A marina is planned along the riverfront to be developed by others
The proposal evaluations will consider the applicants’ experience and qualifications; economic benefits to the city; design success meeting the requirements; financial proposal; and extra provisions such as architectural character, expanded requirements and added value.
The CBRE real estate firm will perform a financial analysis of each proposal.
CBRE marketed the city-owned former Duval County Courthouse property at 330 E. Bay St. The property is vacant and was part of what the DIA branded in 2019 as The Ford on Bay development, which previously included the 2.39-acre parcel, the former City Hall Annex at 220 E. Bay St. to the west and 3.1 acres of submerged land in the St. Johns River.
The 220 E. Bay St. parcel was removed from the project due to Westmont Hospitality Group Inc., the parent company Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, having a contractual right of first refusal for the property.
The original Ford on Bay project dissolved when the developer, New York City-based Spandrel Development Partners LLC wanted to reduce the project scope and change to workforce residential during the height of the pandemic.